ICANN eliminates .org domain price caps despite lopsided opposition

Video presentation behind a podium with an ICANN logo.

Earlier this year, ICANN sought public comment on a new contract for the Public Interest Registry, the non-profit organization that administers the .org top-level domain. The results were stark.

More than 3,200 individuals and organizations submitted comments to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, and most of them focused on a proposal to remove a cap on the price customers could be charged for .org domains.

The existing contract, signed in 2013, banned the Public Interest Registry from charging more than $8.25 per domain. It allowed annual price increases of no more than 10 percent. Registrars can add their own fees on top of this base amount, but competition among registrars helps keep those added fees down.

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Team studies drone strikes on airplanes by firing them into a wall at 500 MPH

Bird strikes are a very real danger to planes in flight, and consequently aircraft are required to undergo bird strike testing — but what about drones? With UAV interference at airports on the rise, drone strike testing may soon be likewise mandatory, and if it’s anything like what these German researchers are doing, it’ll involve shooting the craft out of air cannons at high speed.

The work being done at Fraunhofer EMI in Freiburg is meant to establish some basic parameters for how these things ought to be tested.

Bird strikes, for example, are tested by firing a frozen poultry bird like a chicken or turkey out of an air cannon. It’s not pretty, but it has to be done. Even so, it’s not a very good analogue to a drone strike.

“From a mechanical point of view, drones behave differently to birds and also weigh considerably more. It is therefore uncertain, whether an aircraft that has been successfully tested against bird strike, would also survive a collision with a drone,” explained Fraunhofer’s Sebastian Schopferer in a news release.

The team chose to load an air cannon up with drone batteries and engines, since those make up most of any given UAV’s mass. The propellers and arms on which they’re mounted are generally pretty light and will break easily — compared with a battery weighing the better part of a kilogram, they won’t add much to the damage.

drone testing

The remains of a drone engine and battery after being propelled into the plate on the left at hundreds of miles per hour.

The drones were fired at speeds from 250 to 570 miles per hour (115 to 255 meters per second by their measurement) at aluminum plates of up to 8 millimeters of thickness. Unsurprisingly, there was “substantial deformation” of the plates and the wingless drones were “completely destroyed.” Said destruction was recorded by a high-speed camera, though unfortunately the footage was not made available.

It’s necessary to do a variety of tests to determine what’s practical and what’s unnecessary or irrelevant — why spend the extra time and money firing the drones at 570 when 500 does the same level of damage? Does including the arms and propellers make a difference? At what speed is the plate in danger of being pierced, necessitating additional protective measures? And so on. A new rig is being constructed that will allow acceleration (and deceleration) of larger UAVs.

With enough testing the team hopes that not only could such things be standardized, but simulations could be built that would allow engineers to virtually test different surfaces or materials without a costly and explosive test rig.

PlayStation Vue applies a $5-a-month increase to all live TV plans

Sony announced that it is increasing the subscription cost for its live TV streaming service. PlayStation Vue customers will see all multi-channel plans increase their monthly rates by $5. The change will take effect today for new customers. Existing subscribers will see the prices go up with their first billing period after July 31.

The cheapest package for PlayStation Vue, the Access plan, will now offer a collection of live channels and DVR tools for $49.99 a month. The Core package, which adds several sports channels, will cost $54.99. The Elite level adds movie channels for $64.99 a month while Premium also adds HBO and Showtime for $84.99 a month.

The most common reason prices increase for media subscriptions, both with live video like PlayStation Vue and on-demand viewing like Hulu or Netflix, is the cost of licensing content. Those costs are only going up because several channels that provide that content are going it alone. Disney and NBCUniversal are both gearing up to launch their own streaming services, which gives them leverage to charge other providers even more for access to their programming or risk losing access completely.

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